No decision made on major Wigan borough housing development after FIVE-HOUR meeting

Only 41 out of a potential 187 new homes will be built in Wigan after the planning committee could not make a decision on major housing development tabled for Leigh.
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A total of 146 homes are planned for Moss Bank Nurseries in Leigh, but the lack of affordable homes and the impact on the highways proved too much for councillors to make a decision.

Motions to approve and refuse the application both ended in a tie – so the application was deferred until another planning committee further down the line.

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Street scene of proposed 146-home development off Hooten Lane in LeighStreet scene of proposed 146-home development off Hooten Lane in Leigh
Street scene of proposed 146-home development off Hooten Lane in Leigh
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This came after councillors approved two housing plans with zero affordable homes proposed – much to their frustrations.

Speaking on the first application for 27 homes in Atherton, Coun Fred Walker said: “So we’re getting £48,000 instead of six affordable houses. How many affordable homes that £48k buy? It won’t buy one.

“Instead of getting six affordable homes, we are not even getting half of one. If we allow this to continue, we will be writing off our affordable homes policy.”

This feeling was echoed many committee members throughout the meeting in Wigan Town Hall as the separate applications were discussed.

The Swim@55 building on Park Road, GolborneThe Swim@55 building on Park Road, Golborne
The Swim@55 building on Park Road, Golborne
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Planning officers in attendance explained that the developers were providing Section 106 money in place of the lack of affordable housing. This is a requirement if affordable homes are not deemed to be financially viable for developers.

Collier Brook Farm in Atherton will have 27 homes built there and a further 14 homes in Tyldesley off Hadbutt Lane following approval in a meeting that lasted over five hours.

Only 12 from all of the 187 homes in the three applications put before the committee were available as affordable accommodation (80 per cent of full market value). Coun Fred Walker questioned, “is this the death of our 25 per cent affordable housing we are so proud of”.

Here are more details on each application discussed by the planning committee…

Plans for 27 homes off Bag Lane, AthertonPlans for 27 homes off Bag Lane, Atherton
Plans for 27 homes off Bag Lane, Atherton

Transformation of Moss Bank Nurseries – DEFERRED

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Moss Bank Nurseries’ patch of land off Hooten Lane could make way for 146 new houses if approved at a later hearing.

The old nurseries on the site could be demolished by Bellway Homes and replaced with houses with “an attractive green gateway, Wigan Town Hall heard. The application had previously been for 158 homes, but consultation responses led to the developers reducing the scheme by 12 homes.

Proposals for the site would be split into two phases which will allow for Phase 1 to be delivered as housing while the nurseries are relocated to other premises. Once the nurseries are vacant Phase 2 can then be delivered which will involve the demolition of the outbuildings.

CGI of how 14 new homes off Hadbutt Lane, Astley could lookCGI of how 14 new homes off Hadbutt Lane, Astley could look
CGI of how 14 new homes off Hadbutt Lane, Astley could look

For objectors, increased traffic congestion on an already busy Warrington Road is a big concern. They believe the mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes could lead to road safety issues and the creation of rat runs in the surrounding residential streets.

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Councillors for the Leigh South ward, Coun Kevin Anderson and Coun Charles Rigby were in attendance at the meeting on December 6.

Coun Rigby told the committee: “Delays on Warrington Road have increased since Bellway Homes last submitted a similar application (over 20 years ago). There are more than 14,000 traffic movements on that road between 6am and 6pm each day.

“We ask the committee to be behind local residents and common sense.”

A representative at the meeting on behalf of the applicant explained that plans were in place in order to reduce impact on the highway network around the site. He added that the project would provide a biodiversity net gain in the area.

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Because only 12 homes are penned for affordable housing, not meeting the 25 per cent criteria, Bellway Homes will have to provide just over £40,000 in Section 106 contributions. This will go towards signal work at the ChapelStreet/Warrington Road junction, a study on the risk of rat runs and travel plan framework.

In regard to the lack of affordable homes, Coun Matthew Dawber said: “I find it hard to believe that a company of that size (Bellway Homes) would find it difficult to provide the affordable homes.”

The committee member highlighted the applicant’s annual turnover is in the billions. Officers pointed out they can only look at the financial viability of the scheme rather than the company itself.

Plan to transform Collier Brook Farm into 27 new homes – APPROVED

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The old farm buildings off Bag Lane have become overgrown and will now make way for a mix of two, three and four-bed homes with an access route for cars on the site.

The new estate will become a cul-de-sac style format with 54 car parking spaces in total. Although initial objectors claimed that new homes could overlook the homes already on Russell Street and Brook Street near the planned site, none turned up to the meeting to speak against the application.

As part of the conditions with the approval, the developer must provide £48,000 in contributions towards play provision improvements, parks and other affordable housing plans. This is due to the fact that the developers were not providing any affordable homes on the site due to it being financially unviable.

Coun Stuart Gerrard: “This area does need developing. That building there had to be pulled down after being left to go to such a state.

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“There are six houses being planned for land that doesn’t belong to the development. We do need the investment in local play areas there. I think they need to hold back on the houses on separate land.”

Coun John Harding, also frustrated by the lack of affordable housing, said that there was value in getting new homes in the area.

Green belt land in Tyldesley to have 14 new homes built on it – APPROVED

A total of 14 new homes will be built at Hadbutt Farm in Tyldesley despite concerns it could ‘impact wildlife and lead to loss of green belt land’.

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Mr Paul Mosscrop has been given approval to build 14 two-storey homes in a cul-de-sac off Hadbutt Lane all of which would have four bedrooms – except one with five bedrooms. Demolition of the existing factory buildings would be required before construction on the new homes could start.

A total of 21 objectors came forward for this application and were concerned this could lead to the loss of an access road used by cyclists, walkers, horse riders who would be impacted by the sudden use of cars down the lane. There are also concerns about the loss of green belt land, impact on wildlife and neighbouring homes being overlooked.

Special circumstances are required in order to be granted permission to build on green belt. The applicant explained that the land was previously developed on, being used as a food processing facility.

They explained the new development would not have any more impact on the green belt than the previous development.

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Speaking in support of the application, Andrew Thompson, speaking on behalf of the applicant said: “Full time security measures have been put in at the site (due to vandalism and antisocial behaviour). It has become an eyesore in efforts to make it secure.

“This will benefit the local environment and provide a biodiversity net gain.”

He added that the traffic will actually improve from the previous use as there will be less HGVs going through the site.

The developers will provide £29,106 towards new play equipment and surfacing works at Astley Street Park, and landscaping, footpath improvements and park furniture for Astley Street Park. This is due to the absence of affordable housing at the site.

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“We are seeing application after application without affordable housing,” Coun Laura Flynn said, continuing the meeting theme of annoyance over the lack of affordable homes. “These houses are going to make an awful lot of money and I want to know why they’re not providing affordable housing.”

Again, the developers explained it was not financially viable to provide affordable housing.

Second indoor swimming pool planned due to high demand – REFUSED

A club operating an indoor swimming pool without planning permission for two years has now been refused permission to work as a private hire pool and for an additional pool.

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Swim@55 is a members club in Golborne that allows people to privately hire a swimming pool off Park Road and is open all week. They were hoping to get retrospective permission for their current indoor pool as well as permission to build a second one at their site.

The application put forward by Mr Steve Crum states that they accommodate individuals and groups who are unable to find an appropriate facility in the local area. They cater for those with special needs and disabilities with tailored sessions and support young families and those who are body conscious, planning documents have stated.

Planning officers recommended refusal of the application as it ‘fails to respect the character and appearance of the conservation area’. Appearing at the town hall, Mr Crum disagreed with the recommendation of the officers.

“This building is not seen from anywhere externally from the site,” Mr Crum said. “There is no visual impact whatsoever, unless you have a helicopter.

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Couns Laura Flynn and Janice Sharratt were concerned that this was more of a commercial venture than a charitable one, and the impact on the conservation area was not deemed the risk. The application was refused, but officers explained that an application for the use of the current pool without an additional one would be acceptable if brought back to them.